With the horrors of Kermit Gosnell in full view, it is time we start investigating some of the critical thinking by the far left on the issue of abortion. These ethical presuppositions have created necessary, but not sufficient circumstances for an atrocity like Gosnell’s to occur. As such, they deserve discussion and rebuke.
Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote at Salon.com some weeks back about her belief that life does begin at conception, but that has never stopped her from being pro-choice. Her piece is an excellent representation of what thought extremes the pro-choice lobby is headed towards:
Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.
So, and I hope I am summing her position up fairly, Williams believes that human life does begin at conception, but that not all life is equal in value. Some life is worth taking for the benefit of other lives.
She points to choices the U.S. government makes regarding drone strikes, the death penalty, euthanasia, and people being taken off life support. Indeed, it is an interesting cavalcade of life decisions we as society face on a regular basis.
I’ll try to deal with each in short. Regarding drone strikes, for the sake of argument, I’ll cede that the death of innocent men, women, and children as “collateral damage” is wrong and should end. However, pointing to another evil to justify your personal preference of what lives are more valuable than others does not justify your original premise. In terms of the death penalty, what crimes have the 50 million aborted children (as Williams defines fetuses since life begins at conception according to her) committed? Right-to-die laws in certain states are the result of the individual’s wish to end their own lives. Are our children offered the same opportunity in utero?
Finally, she cites the decision to take individuals off life support. This does have something compelling in common with abortion. An individual on life support cannot live on his or her own power. This is true for babies in utero…to a point. Children as young as 22 weeks can live independently from their mothers. So instantly, Williams should be ready to end all abortions after that point, but of course, she is not. But further, a person on life support has no long-term prognosis of improvement (barring a miracle). If families had the same chance for their family member to survive as a baby being born alive, they would certainly hold out. It is in the face of no hope that these difficult decisions are made.
Williams must have drawn many of her conclusions from Peter Singer, “moral” philosopher. Singer stated in his book Life and Death that the argument that a fetus is not human life
is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognize that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being’s life.
Singer, like Williams, holds that the taking of some lives for the benefit of other lives may not be morally wrong. This is it, this is the deep crux of the matter for the far left. It is their contention that taking a life because it inconveniences another human being is not wrong.
Assuming that philosophical position, how is what Kermit Gosnell did incongruent with the positions these two liberals have staked out? Indeed, the only instances with which they may quibble were the abortions Gosnell performed against his patients’ wills. But as for the rest, his actions remain logically consistent with their positions.
And that should terrify us.
Singer apparently has set quite the example for his former place of employ, Monash University, where two professors have taken up his moral equivalence on life.
Alberto Giubilini with Monash University in Melbourne and Francesca Minerva at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne write that in “circumstances occur[ing] after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”
These ideas, these precepts are dangerous. If there is a silver lining to the Gosnell case, it is the clear and brutal evidence of what high-minded “ethical thinking” like Singer’s can lead to. Those who advocate for life need to aggressively insist upon calling this thinking for what it is; justification for Eichmann-like evil. Abortion advocates are laying a “moral” groundwork for murder.
And what is the reason for laying this groundwork? The fact that some babies are inconvenient.
Ultimately this is simply an extension of moral relativism. With moral concepts being completely unmoored from any absolute anchor, all principles revolve around individual perceptions. So to dig in and get a little less esoteric, an individual who is not emotionally or fiscally ready to have a child is willing to sacrifice a human life (or for the sake of argument, potential life) because raising a child would be hard, and why should she suffer because of a newer life? Is this what “freedom” has led us to? A complete disregard for anything that is not individually “beneficial?”
Horrifyingly, the arguments presented here all support that decision.
Some might argue that society sets up the expectations for the concept of life. You know, because we humans nailed that in Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, The Spanish Inquisition, slavery, etc, etc. The Left may also argue that the overwhelming majority of abortions happen in the first trimester. So be it, we should be able to agree that legislation banning all abortions that happen after 21 weeks should be enacted. However, if was even suggested, the Left would be apoplectic. That’s because the moral assumptions underlying their position value personal freedom (for parents) over the life of children. If there is any chance for life, shouldn’t we as a people fight for it? We go to great lengths to preserve any shred of life found outside the womb, why are we so malicious against life inside of one?
The conditions of Gosnell’s clinic also prompt the question ‘How many more clinics like this exist?’ There are already reports of some. How could the freedom of consequence-free sex possibly be worth the price of children’s lives?Those of us on the right have long been mocked for saying these arguments create slippery slopes that can lead to horrible immorality. Yet what is Gosnell but the reality of how dangerous moral relativism is?
The ‘freedom to choose’ is not worth the cost.